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Hudinilson Jr. ”Xerox-Action” (1979/1980)
Hudinilson Jr. ”Xerox-Action” (1979/1980), 22 x 14 cm, part of a polyptych

Intimate, erotic studies of male beauty with a photocopy machine

Hudinilson Jr. was the queer Brazilian artist who pioneered the art of the explicit photocopier selfie

Despite finding himself largely outcast by the art world during his lifetime, the late Hudinilson Jr. is now gaining recognition as one of the most important and transgressive Brazilian artists of his generation. Experimenting with new technology, he began using a photocopy machine in the late 70s to create intimate, erotic studies of his own naked body. As some of his Xerox artworks go on display in a digital exhibition at Galeria Jaquelin Martins, we take a look at the defiant life and work of this radical queer artist.

Born in São Paulo in 1957, Hudinilson Jr. came of age in a Catholic family during an era when Brazil was in the grip of a repressive military dictatorship. Anything ‘other’ had to survive in the shadows and the margins. Despite – or maybe because of – this oppressive authoritarian atmosphere, the young artist developed a rebellious desire to stray into forbidden realms.

He studied at the art college by day, and spent the nights exploring his sexuality and searching for pleasure in the city’s shadowy enclaves and underground nightspots. His nocturnal exploits began developing into artistic acts of resistance. Forming a collective called 3NÓS3 with artists fellow artists Rafael França and Mário Ramiro, the trio would mount the city’s most prised public statues and shroud the figures’ heads in black plastic bags as a comment on ongoing incedents of state violence and torture reputedly being enacted on civillians.

In the late 1970s, Hudinilson Jr. began stencilling his distinctive lexicon of symbols and text on the streets of São Paulo: sexually provocative slogans and anatomical, classical, and pornographic illustrations of male genetalia. But perhaps his most notable works are his Xerox series of artworks. In 1977 he began experimenting with a photocopy machine – an unusual choice of medium at a time when this technology was relatively state-of-the-art but not readily available for domestic use, associated more with offices than artists’ studios.

Inspired by the tragic Greek myth of Narcissus – the young man who became transfixed with his own beauty – Hudinilson Jr. began using the Xerox machine as a means of reproducing images of himself, presenting his own body as a work of art and creating compositions of his photocopied flesh.

Artworks such as “Performance Narcisse: Exercício de Me Ver II” (“Exercise in Looking at Me II”, 1982) are not only a Narcissus-like attempt to gaze back at his own image but also to immortalise his physical self. In his series “(Des)construir Narciso” (“[De] constructing Narcissus”, 2000), he even enlarged the x-rays of his broken bones – the consequence of a homophobic assault. Created in the backdrop of the HIV epidemic, when queer bodies were problematised and stigmatised in heightened new ways, these constellations of limbs and erogenous zones take on more amplified meanings of defiance and poignancy. 

Scroll through our gallery of images, above, to take a look at some of Hudinilson Jr.’s seminal artworks. 

Hudinilson Jr. is showing at Galeria Jaqueline Martins until 9 January 2020